The Wasatch Behind: Helmsley's millionaire mutt
"Good grief," Uncle Spud sputtered as he peeked over the top of his newspaper. "Leona Helmsley left 12-million dollars to her dog."
"Are you talking about the recently deceased hotel tycoon known as the queen of mean?" I asked.
"That's her," he said. "She left two of her grandchildren out in the cold and gave $12 million to the dog. What a babe."
"Lucky dog," I smiled. "This puts a whole new meaning to the term, rich bitch."
"No kidding," he grinned.
"So why did they call her the queen of mean?" I asked.
"Because she was famous for treating the 'little people' who worked for her with contempt," he said. "It is typical that she left money for the dog and not for those who served her."
"But what would her dog do with $12 million?" I wondered.
"I can only guess," he said. "Dogs live entirely different lives than people."
"For one thing, everyday is Saturday to a dog," he said. "Dogs don't care what day it is. Their whole life is one long vacation. They don't go to work, they don't go to school, they don't cut the grass, and they don't pick-up after themselves. They just hang-out day after day and get plenty of rest."
"In my next life, I want to be the dog," I smiled.
"According to your wife, you almost made it this time," he giggled.
"Don't pay any attention to her," I growled. "I'm the big dog around our house."
"Yea, I noticed that she's got you trained to fetch and heel," he laughed.
"But some dogs are working dogs," I insisted, expertly changing the subject. "There are watchdogs, birddogs, sheepdogs, seeing-eye dogs, and even junkyard dogs."
"Working dogs don't know they are working," Spud said. "To them, work is a game. That's why they reward bomb-sniffing dogs by tossing a tennis ball for them to chase. You can't make a dog do real work like hauling hay or stacking bricks."
"So where do we get the expressions, 'working like a dog' and dog tired?" I asked.
"Dogs are always sleeping in the shade like they're exhausted," he said. "It's another game they play. Dogs are smarter than people."
"So you don't think Leona Helmsley's dog would need $12-million for a retirement fund?"
"Not even," Spud agreed. "Most dogs are pretty well retired already."
"So what else could a rich dog spend his money on?" I asked.
"Well, dogs don't normally own anything, other than a dog dish and a squeaky toy, or a ball or two. An old Chevy hubcap and a fifty-cent tennis ball pretty well satisfy a dog's worldly ambitions. Most dogs are not very materialistic."
"What about food?" I offered.
"Twelve million will buy a whole lot of dog chow," the Spudster mused. "Even if the pampered pooch ate nothing but fillet mignon and lived to be 300 years old, $12 million would gain interest faster than the dog could eat it up."
"Shelter?" I asked.
"A lap dog like Helmsley's could get by easy with a couple of square feet." Spud said. "I think a $38 pet-porter would do the first-class Fido just fine. My rough and tumble cow-dogs sleep under the porch."
"A dog doesn't need a Carnival Cruise," he said. "Throw him a bone or a ball once in awhile, or buy him a smart-alecky cat to fight with, and he's happy."
"How much could you spend on a dog that's smaller than a rabbit? Even if the little flea bag got run over by a caviar delivery truck, a good veterinarian or taxidermist could rebuild the mutilated mutt using secondhand parts for less than $200."
"So," I said. "If the dog doesn't need a truckload of money to live happily ever after, why did Helmsley leave the little fur ball $12 million smackeroos?"
"She was making a point," Spud said. "The queen of mean gave more money to the dog than to any of her relatives. How do you suppose that made them feel? She also thumbed her nose at the rest of us by showing the world that she could do any doggone thing she wanted to do with all of that money; no matter how spiteful; no matter how self-indulgent."
"Do dogs go to heaven?" I asked.
"Good dogs go to heaven," Uncle Spud said. "I don't think miserable old dogs who bite make the cut."